Potholes and power failures set to cost Msunduzi a lot in claims

2012-03-05 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality is busy processing nearly R4,8 million in insurance claims.

The lion’s share of it is a claim from Mfundo Everton Zondi, who wants R3,5 million for an injury caused by a stone that flew out of a brush cutter and allegedly struck his eye.

He was in his car at the time and his window was down when municipal workers were operating the cutter nearby, his lawyer Terry Maliti told The Witness.

Nearly R400 000 worth of claims come from the council’s own employees and the remainder from other residents complaining of inconveniences ranging from potholes and power outages to individual cases such as injuries caused by an uncovered manhole or the damage done by an electricity pole falling on a car.

The claims were tabled at a recent executive committee meeting.

Maliti said that while his client, Zondi, was still able to use his eye and had not undergone surgery, he had suffered distress from his injury.

“However, the damage to his eye is largely in the future as deterioration will be much faster, and as a result he has to visit an ophthalmologist at least twice a year.”

From July to December last year, about 36 claims from residents relating to potholes alone, totalled R90 663.

Holes allegedly caused damage to motorists’ rims and tyres. Claims ranged from R300 to just over R11 000.

Some 22 others were to do with food that went off during power outages during the same period.

They totalled R58 766 and ranged from R1 500 to R20 000.

One person is claiming R83 420 for loss of income due to a power outage.

A resident who fell into an open manhole has lodged a claim against the municipality for R25 000.

Another, whose car suffered damage when an electricity pole fell on it, wants R21 481, and yet another wants R120 000 for an alleged wrongful arrest.

In addition to residents’ claims, the municipality has had to deal with nearly R400 000 arising from actions of its own employees.

They range from battery thefts to overturned vehicles, and from fender benders to third party claims.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the claims must all be investigated.

It had to be established whether people who claim to have struck potholes did so by day or by night.

“If it was during the day, then questions need to be asked as to why we should pay, because the driver would have seen the pothole.”

Mayor Chris Ndlela agreed that further investigations were needed. He cited the claim by a municipal employee who claimed that two batteries were stolen from two different municipal vehicles he was using on the same day.

“Two different vehicles. One driver. One similar case. No, no, no. How does a battery get stolen [from under] a bonnet?” Ndlela asked.

Exco member Jabu Ngubo said the municipality would save money if it maintained its roads and fixed the electricity problems.

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